IEEE Photonics Society

Boston Photonics Society Chapter

Boston Chapter of the IEEE Photonics Society


October 5, 2017
7 PM

Verizon Technology Center

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Laser Communications from the Moon (Pre-registration Required)

Dr. Don Boroson, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA

Co-sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society


Dr. Don Boroson, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA

Abstract:  Engineers have been trying to solve the free-space, high-rate laser communications problem for several decades.  However, it is only since about 2001 that the technology has really taken off, with LEO and GEO systems successfully demonstrated by teams around the world.  Then, in 2013, MIT Lincoln Laboratory built and operated NASA’s Moon-to-Earth high rate duplex lasercom system called LLCD, the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration.  This system successfully demonstrated data rates up to 622 Mbps from a lunar-orbiting unmanned spacecraft to each of several optical ground terminals, and up to 20 Mbps on the uplink.  The error-free links were used to transmit large data files much faster than ever demonstrated at lunar ranges, real-time spacecraft commands and telemetry, and high-definition video, both recorded and live, to the great amusement of the observers in the ground operations center.  The wide bandwidths of both the uplink and downlink optical signals were also configured to achieve real-time continuous ranging with an accuracy better than one centimeter whenever the comm links were running.

The talk will give an overview of the system and its novel designs as well as the mission operations and lasercom performance.  It will also discuss the after effects of the mission, including a quick snapshot of the ongoing effort to fly a similar terminal on the upcoming manned Orion missions.


Biography:  Don Boroson received his BSE and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. He has spent his entire career at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he is now a Laboratory Fellow in the Communications Division.  Active in the lasercom community for 30 years, Dr. Boroson has led a number of projects designing, modeling, building, and testing high data rate laser communications systems for space applications.  Recently, he acted as the Principal Investigator and Lincoln Program Manager for the NASA Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration project, which set many records including being the first laser communications system to operate at lunar distances. Don is the author of many journal and conference papers, and is a Fellow of the SPIE.


Location:  Verizon Technology Center